On April, 21, 2019, voters had an opportunity to freely elect one of the two run-off candidates who received the most of votes during the first election round. The second round is a final stage of election campaign at the regular presidential election in Ukraine with the record high number of candidates running for presidency (39 persons).
According to the provisional results of the long-term and short-term observation at the regular presidential election in Ukraine (conducted since October, 2018), OPORA states the competitive nature of the electoral process. The voting process and the period of pre-election campaigning mostly complied with the basic international standards of democratic elections.
Voters were comprehensively informed and provided with actual alternatives for expressing their will, which broadly displayed the political parties represented in the society, and reflected the entire range of civic and political attitudes. The state provided citizens with due conditions for exercising their voting rights, with no pressure from authorities or other subjects during the election days on March, 31, and on April, 21.
Candidates resorted to various forms of campaigning, with sufficient and often excessive financial resources therefor. Despite the signs of political support of a number of national and regional media, citizens were duly informed on activities of Ukrainian presidential candidates, on their election agenda, and on political positions. However, unfortunately, Ukrainian presidential candidates in the run-off election failed to provide for full-fledged discussion between them on the priorities of their election programs within the format of television debate organized by the public broadcasting service at the cost of the National Budget of Ukraine.
The real competitiveness of elections was unfortunately accompanied with significant shortcomings of electoral process that are systemic in nature. Non-transparent funding for official activities and implicit election campaigning, shadow nature of funding of campaigning activities and work of election commission members, misuse of administrative resources and negative information campaigns remain the problems that indicate to the need to reinforce legal and practical guarantees for democratic nature of elections in Ukraine.
OPORA states the need to enhance the control mechanisms over sources of using financial means in favour of potential and registered Ukrainian presidential candidates. A large number of Ukrainian presidential candidates launched the de facto campaigns before the start of election process thus creating the unlevelled playing field for other electoral actors.
After the official start of elections provided by the Law of Ukraine “On Election of the President of Ukraine”, OPORA observers continued registering campaigning activities which sources and the scope of funding were not transparent and accountable. Mostly uncontrolled activities of politically affiliated NGOs at the expense of the candidates’ election funds, unbalanced and anonymous implicit campaigning in national and in local media, a rather massive production and dissemination of campaigning materials with no source data thereon require from the state to reform the law and the dedicated institutions for the full-fledge monitoring of funding election campaigns. The requirement also refers to the state’s response to anonymous negative campaigns against competitors that were largely implemented by influential candidates.
Regular Ukrainian presidential elections show the need to improve legal framework to regulate expenses of candidates in the field of staffing and logistics for their election campaigns. Current versions of the Law of Ukraine “On Election of the President of Ukraine” prohibits financial payments to campaigners, to members of election commissions, to official observers who act in favour of Ukrainian presidential candidates. The legal provisions are justified in the context of avoiding vote-buying but they have low efficiency in the area of counteracting illegal funding of elections.
Instead, current regulation on the level of the by-law for reimbursing actual costs by voters under free-of-charge contracts for implementing campaigning makes it impossible to efficiently prevent the implicit forms of vote-buying. The problems identified in the area of funding election campaigns require from the Supreme Council to find due balance between the need to legalize all de facto costs of candidates and the importance to counteract vote-buying (including its indirect forms).
Regular Ukrainian presidential elections attest to the need to reinforce the guarantees for political neutrality of public officials and local government officials. OPORA registered multiple episodes of public or implicit engagement of public officials in election campaigns for certain candidates. The incidents included both breaking restrictions of the law, and incompliance with the standards of political neutrality of public administration. Not all of the Ukrainian presidential candidates, predominantly the current Head of State Petro Poroshenko, managed to clearly distinguish between the formal position-related and campaigning activities. It must be stated that the Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskyi also failed to effectively distinguish between his professional and business activities and the election campaigning activities, which resulted in his non-proportionate representation in some media.
Incidents of misuse of administrative resource had a negative effect on providing the principle of equal opportunities when running the campaigning, and they need to be prevented before the regular parliamentary elections in Ukraine. Special focus, according to OPORA, shall be on counteracting the misuse of budget programs and social payments in favour of certain electoral subjects. […]
Quelle: OPORA, 22.04.2019, https://www.oporaua.org/en/statement/vybory/vybory-prezydenta/vybory-prezydenta-2019/17940-zaiava-gromadianskoyi-merezhi-opora-shchodo-poperednikh-rezultativ-sposterezhennia-na-chergovikh-viborakh-prezidenta-ukrayini.